Dan Sandman

11: How To Be Good by Nick Hornby

In Books, Comedy, Fiction on 15/03/2013 at 12:00 pm

I usually like Nick Hornby’s books because they tend to be funny. This book made me laugh but I found it hard to get into in any meaningful way. The plot, based around a husband’s sudden spiritual conversion, is like an unwisely converted and overly extended episode of The Simpsons – not great. Furthermore, the narrator (doctor, mother and wife Katie) constantly uses brackets for no particular reason (for example, to divulge an extra, humorously intended, nugget of information) – irritating.

How To Be Good by Nick Hornby (front)

Hornby fans will enjoy Katie’s humorous use of lists, her references to pop culture, and her uncanny ability to give other characters nicknames. However, unlike High Fidelity or About A Boy (which I love): How To Be Good has not dated well. Written at the turn of the century, a time before i-pads and e-books, the parable feels very ‘early noughties’. As if to further prove the point, to my nostalgic pleasure, the Sega Dreamcast is referred to. And, just as computer games consoles go defunct: occasionally, a book can become less relevant within the space of twelve years. I wonder why the book received rave reviews upon its release; it certainly hasn’t been made into a movie – if that’s anything to go by.

How To Be Good by Nick Hornby (side)

But I’m glad I found this American edition of the book. Of particular interest were its hyperbolic review quotes and its bright yellow cover. On the book’s side is plastered The New York Times Bestseller written in white text surrounded by a red egg. If one were to judge this book by its cover quotes, one might come to the conclusion that its a guaranteed hit. In my opinion, it’s an okay book: it’s not a great book.

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